A human-rights case filed on the behalf of an 11-year-old student has prompted the Archdiocese of Vancouver to adopt a policy that allows transgender students express their gender identity freely.
Tracey Wilson, who was born as a boy named Trey, now lives as a girl. Her parents Michelle and Garfield fully supported their daughter’s decision to transition in the summer of 2012. However, the Catholic school she attended refused to acknowledge her wishes of being identified as female. Tracey was free to be a girl, but not in school, where she was still identified as male.
This is due to the schools board’s former policy regarding gender in which it declared that, “ The Catholic Church teaches that gender is given by God and that the body reveals the divine path. As such, humans are not free to choose or change their sexual identity.”
In response to the school’s refusal to accept Tracey’s choice, the Wilsons filed a human rights’ complaint. On Wednesday, the family withdrew the complaint as the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese (CISVA) agreed to adopt a policy that accommodates students with gender dysphoria or those who choose to identify with gender in a way that differs from societal stereotypes. The CIVSA also paid the Wilsons an undisclosed amount as part of the legal settlement.
The new policy promises to provide support through the form of counseling services. It also calls for administrators, teachers, students and other members of the school community to respect transgender children’s decisions regarding the gender pronouns they identify with, the bathrooms they use and the uniforms they choose to wear in relation to their gender identity.
The decision made by the CISVA comes after a similar policy passed by the Vancouver School Board in June. This decision did not come without controversy, as many outraged parents were not welcoming of the plan.
The CISVA is the first in Canada to accommodate the needs of transgender students in Catholic schools. Tracey Wilson has paved the way for Archdiocese across the country to hopefully follow suit and remove the stigma and misunderstanding that is often unfairly attached to individuals who identify as transgender.
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